PATIENTS at two Sussex hospitals were infected with listeria from chicken sandwiches.

Public health officials believe two cases of listeria – at Worthing Hospital and St Richards in Chichester – were linked to pre-packed chicken sandwiches.

The sandwiches were supplied by the Good Food Chain – the catering firm linked to the deaths of five patients at hospitals in Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester and Derby.

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said their two patients suffered only mild symptoms of the infections and have now been treated appropriately.

The hospitals removed all chicken products from patients catering and hospital shops on May 25 after being told about the potential dangers by the Good Food Chain,

The following day all Good Food Chain products were removed from the hospitals after Public Health England informed the trust of the possible link to listeria.

Western Sussex Hospitals’ chief nurse and director for infection prevention and control, Dr Maggie Davies, said: “Listeriosis – which is the infection caused by Listeria bacteria – is rare and for most healthy people it goes unnoticed or there are mild symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea that usually last a short time without the need for treatment.

“Pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions can be susceptible to more serious complications, but Public Health England advises that the risk to the public is low and that people should only seek medical attention if they develop symptoms.”

Public Health England has now announced that 43 hospital trusts across the country have been affected by the outbreak.

As well as the four hospitals where patients died, patients were diagnosed with listeria linked to the outbreak in West Sussex, Frimley, in Surrey and East Kent.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, speaking in the Commons, said: “I promise there will be a full and thorough investigation, and severe consequences if there is any evidence of wrongdoing.”

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth added: “Hospital catering staff have raised with me concerns about the tight finances, and that years of capital cuts have left kitchens substandard, and this has driven a move to greater outsourcing of catering, with sandwiches and soups steadily replacing hot meals.

“Recent data shows some hospitals spending less than £3 per patient per day.”